What’s Next With FSMA?

The first deadline for compliance with new Food Safety Modernization Act mandates has passed and the food processing industry is still standing but what’s next on the FSMA to-do list?

Tim Gallagher, director of accounts for Sprague Pest Solutions, says the next major FSMA mandate impacting pest management practices is the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food rule that will go into effect in the second quarter of 2017.

The aim of the new mandate is to further protect food from contamination from farm to table, therefore minimizing food borne illnesses such as listeria and E.coli.

“Clients will have to show their means of transportation are free of pests and conducive conditions that would encourage pest infestation,” says Gallagher, who recalls seeing several inches of sunflower seeds swept out of a semi-trailer truck onto a loading dock.

The Sprague Pest Experts have reviewed the specifics of the mandates and the key elements, as outlined on the Food & Drug Administration website, focus on the following:

Vehicles and Transportation Equipment: The design and maintenance of vehicles and transportation equipment to ensure that it does not cause the food that it transports to become unsafe. For example, they must be suitable and adequately cleanable for their intended use and capable of maintaining temperatures necessary for the safe transport of food.

Transportation Operations: The measures taken during transportation to ensure food safety, such as adequate temperature controls, preventing contamination of ready to eat food from touching raw food, protection of food from contamination by non-food items in the same load or previous load, and protection of food from cross-contact, i.e., the unintentional incorporation of a food allergen.

Training: Training of carrier personnel in sanitary transportation practices and documentation of the training. This training is required when the carrier and shipper agree that the carrier is responsible for sanitary conditions during transport.

Records: Maintenance of records of written procedures, agreements and training (required of carriers). The required retention time for these records depends upon the type of record and when the covered activity occurred, but does not exceed 12 months.

Gallagher says clients will have to document cleaning schedules for trucks, railcars, shipping containers, boats, farm equipment and other transportation-related apparatus that carry processed and unprocessed food.

How big of an issue is this? Some research estimates that roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year, and losses suffered during the transportation process are part of that.

“Facility and QA managers must be defenders of their facilities and take the necessary steps to protect them from pests that arrive inside incoming shipments of materials and products,” says Gallagher, who witnessed a cold storage facility reject a shipment until the truck carrying the load was cleaned. 

Compliance with the transportation mandates is required for larger companies (more than 500 employees) by April 2017 and smaller have until April 2018.

Gallagher says the mandate represent a change in attitude by regulators and is designed reduce product losses during the transportation process. 

“The long-term impact will be a safer food supply and less product spoilage,” says Gallagher. 

Recently Joann Givens, co-chair of the FSMA Operations Team Steering Committee and director of FDA’s Food and Feed Program in the Office of Regulatory Affairs, provided a look ahead at the short-term effects the FSMA mandates will have on the operations of human and animal food processing facilities.

To read the full Q and A with Givens, visit fda.gov

Agriculture, Food Processing & Manufacturing